Adel Abd al-Mahdi, a senior official in the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and Iraq's vice-president, pledged on Monday that the Shia Iraqi Coalition - the biggest bloc in the Iraqi parliament - will raise the issue of a Shia federal state within two months.

 

Abd al-Mahdi was speaking at a gathering commemorating the third anniversary of the death of Baqir al-Hakim, the former leader of SCIRI who was killed by a bomb in Najaf in 2003.  

 

"We suggest continuing the establishment of regions. We are going to submit the project to the parliament in the coming two months," he said.

 

Abd al-Mahdi  acknowledged the government's failure in terms of public services and economy.

 

Baqir al-Hakim (background)
was killed on August 29, 2003

"Achieving public services that Iraqis hope for will help us in fighting terrorism. We have to hit terrorism by providing services and achieving a good economy," he said.

 

Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim, chairman of SCIRI and brother of the late al-Hakim, led another ceremony on Saturday, also commemorating the third anniversary of his brother's death.

 

He gave a speech in which he highlighted "a number of important issues that we should take care of and give them priority in our daily movements".

 

Al-Hakim repeated his claim for a Shia federal region consisting of nine Iraqi governorates stretching from Babylon, 100km south of Baghdad, to Basra at the tip of southern Iraq.

 

He said: "Federalism is constitutionally secured. We have to work seriously on this issue, and figure out the necessary mechanism to switch to federalism. Dear countrymen, this issue is important to your governorates' security, safety and reconstruction."

 

Prosperity 

 

He urged his followers to follow the example of Kurds in northern Iraq who declared their federal state earlier this year.

 

"Kurdistan was devastated by wars and suffered the same amount of negligence you suffered, but now – thanks to federalism - it has started to enjoy progress and prosperity more than any part of Iraq," he said.

 

Al-Hakim urged the Iraqi government to give the Iraqi governorates their constitutional rights to decide their state of rule.